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Justice Sotomayor to drop ball, not gavel, on 2014 Times Square countdown

U.S. Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor gestures to the audience after speaking at The Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco,
U.S. Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor gestures to the audience after speaking at The Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco,

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor will take center stage among about 1 million revelers in New York's Times Square to usher in 2014 by pressing the button to lower the iconic countdown ball, organizers said on Sunday.

New York native Sotomayor will join pop star Lady Gaga, boxing great Muhammad Ali as well as Bill and Hillary Clinton among those who have had the honor of starting the ball drop, which organizers said will be watched by an estimated 1 billion people around the world.

Sotomayor was chosen for her achievements and rise from humble beginnings in the Bronx to become the first Hispanic appointed to the country's highest court, organizers said.

"She's an inspirational and aspirational choice," said Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance, which organizes the annual event.

The first Supreme Court justice chosen for the honor is scheduled to be in the global glare a few minutes after provocative pop star Miley Cyrus finishes a performance.

One regular guest who will not be in the crowd is outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg. After 12 years in office, Bloomberg opted to spend his final hours as mayor celebrating privately with friends and family, Tompkins said.

(Reporting By Elizabeth Dilts; Editing by Jon Herskovitz and Jackie Frank)

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